After Anna Nicole Smith announced her pregnancy in June, photographer Larry Birkhead claimed the baby was his – but Smith still hasn’t identified who fathered her newborn daughter.
Birkhead and Smith dated for close to two years, someone close to Birkhead tells PEOPLE. Birkhead, who lives in L.A., is so firm in his belief of his paternity that he phoned Smith “a day before she gave birth” hoping to be in the delivery room.
Still, some in Smith’s circle believe that her constant companion Howard K. Stern – a civil attorney who first handled Smith’s business contracts – has been more to Smith than just a legal representative.
“She relies on his opinion for everything,” says Smith’s former nutritional consultant Deenie Leon. Adds a friend: Stern “has always been in love with Anna.”
Whatever their relationship, there is no doubt that Stern is there for her since her 20-year-old son, Daniel, died earlier this month.
“He’s dealing with attorneys, the coroner, transferring the body,” says Stern s sister Bonnie. “He’s put his feelings on the back burner to make sure everyone is okay.”